High Castle Traditional
Crafts


Shearing Hermes

Hermes just before shearing
The picture above is of Hermes and me just before shearing (shearing the sheep, that is, not me). We call Hermes a love sponge; he is one affectionate ram!

Instead of employing the usual method of shearing sheep (leaning over them while they sit on their rumps), I use a shearing stand. It is much easier on my back. Since I use non-electric hand shears and am pretty new to shearing, I'm not fast. The stand allows both the sheep and me to relax, and I can take my time shearing.

Hermes is on a metal shearing stand with his head in a stanchion. The red band you see at his neck is a collar attached to a leash. I fasten the leash to the shearing stand to prevent a fast getaway, in case the sheep decides to bolt. Such rebellions have been known to happen, resulting (before the leash and collar) in me chasing a partially-sheared sheep around until I finally catch him or her to finish the job.

The shearing stand has a hydraulic hand jack attached. I can raise and lower it (and the sheep) to a comfortable shearing height.

Hermes during shearing
The wool cascades off each side of the sheep in large sections.

It's always fascinating to discover what color the sheep is underneath the wool, since the outside of the fleece tends to be darker than the inside. It turns out that Hermes is silver close to his skin.

This is a picture of Hermes last year, not long after his first shearing.

Hermes at about 1 year old
You can see how much darker his wool was.

His head has remained black, though, which is typical of the breed.

As the fleece is removed from the sheep, I put it in a large plastic barrel. It keeps grass, dirt, and other contaminants out of the wool. Amazingly, an adult Cotswold fleece can fill a 35-gallon container; these sheep have a lot of wool.

The interested ovine onlooker in the background is Minerva, and the two white sheep in the upper right-hand corner of the picture are Heloise and her ewe lamb, Sierra.

Close up of Hermes
Look at the sheen of that sheared sheep! He's beautiful.
Hermes being sheared
Hermes on the shearing stand
Hermes after shearing
And here is Hermes getting a few touch-up trims before we let him loose.

You can bet he is one cooler sheep.

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